SPEECH BY H.E. PROFESSOR . JOHN EVANS ATTA MILLS, PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF GHANA ON THE OCCASION OF THE VISIT OF PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA
OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA TO GHANA – 10TH -11TH JULY, 2009
Your Excellency President Barack Obama,
Your Excellency, John Mahama, Vice President of the Republic of Ghana,
Your Excellency Flt. Jerry John Rawlings, former President of the Republic of Ghana,
Your Excellency Mr. John Agyekum Kufour, former President of the Republic of Ghana,
Rt. Hon. Mrs. Joyce Bamford-Addo, Speaker of Parliament,
Your Lordship Mrs. Georgina Wood, Chief Justice,
Chairman and Members of the Council of State,
Honourable Ministers of State,
Honourable Leaders and other Members of Parliament,
Your Excellencies, Members of the Diplomatic Corps,
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,
On behalf of the Government, chiefs and people, it gives me great pleasure to extend to you, President Barack Obama and the First lady, Michelle, a very warm welcome to Ghana.
We in Ghana are deeply inspired by your choice of our country for your first visit, as President of the United States of America, to sub-Saharan Africa.
We are indeed encouraged that your choice of our country derives from your recognition of the achievements we have made in building and consolidating multi-party parliamentary democracy.
Your choice of our country encourages us to remain focused and to sustain the gains of our democratic process and deepen it to the benefit our people as well as our brothers and sisters across the continent of Africa.
It has not been an easy journey but with tenacity and a firm commitment to move forward in the right direction, we have gotten this far.
52 years ago, not too far away from this venue, the Founder and first President of the nation, Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah lit the flame that blazed the trail of the struggle for independence and the economic emancipation of the African continent.
In the early hours of 6th March, 1957, Dr. Nkrumah said, the independence of Ghana would be meaningless unless it is linked to the total liberation of the African Continent.
These profound words continue to guide Ghana as, Leader, a beacon of hope, and a bastion of democracy in Africa.
In getting this far, Ghana cannot overlook the contributions of Presidents Jerry John Rawlings and John Agyekum Kufuor for their roles in the growth of Ghana’s democracy since 1992.
Of course, the greater credit goes to the people of Ghana, who have resolved to defend this growth path with their will and might.
There is still a lot of journeying to be done, and I am confident we shall build a Better Ghana.
You and I stand here today because, just over six months ago, our respective compatriots voted for change; a change that they expect will create a better future.
As is the case with you and your Team, we also face the challenge of creating an environment and concrete opportunities to enable our people achieve their dreams.
For Ghanaians, the dream is captured by the government’s economic vision, endorsed by Ghanaians in December 2008, and which has as its key goal, the establishment of a resilient economy based on shared growth.
We cannot afford to fail our people.
Ghanaians have charged this Government to judiciously utilize Ghana’s precious human and material resources (including the recently discovered oil and gas resources) to develop a diversified economy based on increasing agricultural productivity, investments in productive infrastructure, education and skills development to improve the competitiveness of Ghana in the global economy.
Ghanaians also expect the government to pay increased attention to socio-economic policies, provide increased access to health, and develop social safety nets for the disadvantaged.
We are committed to making sure that these expectations become a reality.
To realize our development agenda, Ghana looks to the world community for shared collaboration and mutual benefit.
Indeed, Africa looks to the world community to fully appreciate that partnership agreements and special initiatives for Africa must pass the test of helping the people of Africa to realize the goals that we have set for ourselves.
We are living in difficult times.
The world has experienced a global crisis of enormous severity. Its effect on Africa is becoming clearer and more significant.
These are in terms of lower growth, increased unemployment, threats to aid flows, reduced remittances, uncertain commodity prices, as well as the impact on the costs and availability of credit.
Our world is becoming increasingly vulnerable to transnational crime especially drug trafficking and money laundering, which has eroded the concept of sovereignty while globalization has facilitated the easy movement of international criminals from one jurisdiction to another.
The impunity with which organized crime is committed in our societies present to us, another daunting challenge.
We are impressed, Mr. President, with the boldness and innovation with which you are addressing these crises.
We on our part will seek your support and collaboration as we attempt, together with other African countries, to explore imaginative as well as realistic ways to deal with the impact of these crises on us.
It is with this expectation that I have the distinct pleasure to once again welcome you to Ghana, and hope that the visit marks the beginning of a more lasting relationship between Ghana and the United States of America.
Akwaaba! Akwaaba! Akwaaba!
God bless Ghana; God bless America; and God bless us all.